Nicosia Dignity Centre reimagined

14/09/21

The constant need to adapt

We’ve been in Cyprus since June 2019.

In August 2021, we decided as an organisation to focus on short-term, essential aid. Covid had a huge impact on the people we were supporting in Cyprus and how we supported them. We were doing more and more things to fill the gaps and it was getting harder for volunteers to help.

The Dignity Centre had to change so we re-opened in September 2021 with a much more focused range of services to help more people in bigger need.

Since then we have constantly revised who we are helping to ensure we help those in greatest need

Big changes to the Dignity Centre

Our decision to focus on essentials unfortunately meant the end of showers, laundry, bike repair, hygiene packs, emergency food bags, language and computer classes, cv writing and Refumade. Some of these will be taken on by partners we are now talking to.

We can have a bigger impact at the Dignity Centre in Cyprus by doing fewer things really well.

A new Dignity Market

The biggest change was creating and opening the Dignity Market with highly dignified systems to manage supply and demand.

It took us 7 days to convert the classroom into a fully operational Market.

We now see 300 Members a week who each can choose a basket of goods. When we opened we offered each adult a basket that costs us €7 each to provide. In July, we increased that to €8.40 per person per week because food prices have increased so much recently.

Who do we support?

We can’t offer everyone food and in any event we don’t want to. We need to target resources at those in greatest need to help them when times are at their toughest.

We are able to identify the group who are without any support by seeing the date they left the state reception centre at Pournara camp. That is when people need most help and support.

Since June 2022, we have offered a ‘Welcome Pack’ to everyone who has left Pournara camp so that they get 5 weeks of intensive support. That way we can give about 300 people every week the breathing space and support they need to start rebuilding their lives in Cyprus.

What is in a Welcome Pack?

1. A weekly ‘free shop’ at the Dignity Market

We have estimated that €8.40 per person per week is a helpful addition to their nutritional needs and enables us to serve up to 300 people per week.

A typical basket for an individual

We distribute food via our Dignity Market because it’s dignified, offers choice and allows for a little normality. The food is critical and it helps but what we are really doing is feeding spirits. Fundamentally, people are given choices and they get agency.

It’s a world away from just giving people a bag of food. You can read how it works here.

2. Getting employment

There is much confusing and slow-moving bureaucracy.

  • We help people with their ‘job cards’ (registering with the government for employment and entitlement to benefits).
  • We also help them to prepare and create a CV so they can look for work.
  • Then everything needs to be printed…

3. Barbering

It’s important to look smart and this helps enormously with self-esteem. We have 3 members who can cut hair for 12-15 people every Friday.

For Members who have had all their Welcome Pack services

We can help others who have not getting the Welcome Pack. We want Members to feel like this is their Centre so all are welcome to use basic services. Of the 5,500 Members we have registered (to July 2022) about 1500 are members of our WhatsApp information groups who we regularly send important information like changes in the law, job opportunities and other support services.

We need you

We need volunteers to continue serving refugees and asylum seekers in Nicosia. It is hard work and it is very rewarding. You can help.